Peter Chrisp, chief executive, NZTE
Since I joined NZTE last September, I’ve been inspired by the business people who are NZTEÕs customers.
Napier firm New Zealand Frost Fans is one company that really captured my imagination. It has developed a four-bladed fan for keeping frost off orchards and vineyards, which is quieter and uses less fuel than its competitors. Driving these competitive advantages, the company is growing fast. It is now exporting 80 percent of its output to markets as far afield as Turkey and Italy – and is gaining good market share.
The really interesting part of this is the source of its innovation – an America’s Cup aerodynamics expert based in Napier who, combined with the outstanding engineering ingenuity and trade skills of Frost Fans, was able to design and build a world first. American industry experts had said, ‘It can’t be done’ – except it was, in New Zealand!
It is great to see a primary industry base (horticulture) using innovation from other industries (the marine industry, via the America’s Cup), supported by great New Zealand engineering and trade skills. Stories like this, and many others, make me optimistic about New Zealand’s future despite the challenges we face as a small country located far from the world’s major markets.
NZTE has had a clear message from the Government that more is needed to grow exports, which provide the tradable income this country needs. To help deliver on this, during the past year we have undergone a review that has taken into account customers, leadership, culture and costs. This involved reviews by both the private sector and the Government’s Performance Improvement Framework.
Based on this information we worked with our public and private sector partners to develop a strategy to boost performance and target our efforts in support of the Government’s economic growth agenda (or EGA).
NZTE is here to make a difference for New Zealand, by helping businesses grow bigger, better, faster in international markets.Ê We are, however, an organisation that has been spread a mile wide and an inch deep. We are now aiming for greater impact by targeting our efforts more tightly.
At the heart of our new structure are our customers, New Zealand’s internationalising businesses. We work with approximately 1500 – 2000 businesses and will focus intensively on an active portfolio of 500 that have the scale and ambition to succeed internationally. We have set ourselves a challenge to double the growth rate of these businesses.
There is also a new strategic focus on areas of competitive advantage for New Zealand, in line with the EGA. These are the high value food sector, and (of particular interest to readers of NZ Manufacturer) knowledge-intensive manufacturing and services industries.
Aligning with international megatrends = such as the massive middle class developing in Asia -is also providing regional areas to target. In the next 50 years, the Indian middle class will be close to the population of the US and Germany combined. This growth is in our backyard = and there is growing demand for products we can supply that tie into our strengths: safe food, niche services, agility and responsiveness.
When asked why a global conglomerate like IBM is interested in Health IT products from New Zealand, the head of the Life Sciences division answered: “It takes 18 kilometres to stop the Queen Mary- we are interested in speedboats.”
I thought this was a really interesting insight. Our compact size works in our favour, making us quick to adopt new ideas and adapt to change Ð which can be very attractive internationally.
Niche markets are key for New Zealand – and operating in and owning particular niches will be critical. We think one of these is aviation, which is a sector predicted to show strong demand across Asia.
Altitude creates bespoke interior fit-outs for airlines around the world and CEO Mike Pervan has described their unique selling proposition as ‘design rich engineering competence’. I think this company is great example of the way forward for New Zealand: it is knowledge intensive, feeding a growing international aviation market, and based on brand and differentiation. Inspirational and imaginative stuff indeed.
Successfully partnering with industry and other NZ Inc Agencies is vital so that we can help companies like Altitude deliver the goods for New Zealand.